Philadelphia won five of its six games, and Roy Halladay was dominant, winning both of his starts with a 0.56 ERA and an average of eight innings a start. True, the Nationals and Astros aren’t exactly overwhelming—Houston was the only team not to win a game this week—but Philly didn’t look like a team with any complacency out of the gate. Nor did the defending champs in the Big Apple. New York got a tough slate to open with, starting in Fenway and then going to Tropicana. In each case, the Yanks lost the series opener, but bounced back to take the next two. They won’t play any weeks tougher than this all year and have a 4-2 record to show for it, thanks to the hitting of Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.
New York also wasn’t hurt by C.C. Sabathia taking a no-hit bid into the eighth inning on Saturday in Tampa. A single by Kelly Shoppach broke it up and supposedly C.C. was set to come out of the game, due to passing his pitch count. If that’s true, that is going way too far in monitoring pitch counts. I understand where Joe Girardi would have been going from—you can argue that it doesn’t make sense for a manager to be allowed to protect his pitcher’s arm if he has a one-hitter, but not if he has a no-hitter. But there has to be some value ascribed to historic achievements in of themselves. Let’s crisscross sports and look at the Indianapolis Colts’ decision to abandon their bid for perfection and rest starters for the playoffs. They ended up getting neither. Things don’t always work the way you plan them, and a chance for a pitcher to throw a no-hitter should never be thrown away.
Those pesky Minnesota Twins started out with seven straight road games in Anaheim and Chicago. All they did was churn out five wins, behind strong hitting performances from familiar sources in Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Their reward for this start on the road? Opening their home ball park against Boston tomorrow afternoon. Can someone please cut this franchise a break? Why make the Twins give up a surefire sellout against a team who’s a good draw any time of year? I realize the marquee teams have to play road games somewhere at this time of year, but it seems that a small-market team opening a new park should get a little break. Let them play Oakland or someone like that.
Speaking of Oakland, they had a nice start winning series against Seattle and LAA, two contenders who had rough weeks generally. The Mariners got nothing offensively from Jose Lopez and Milton Bradley, while the Angels’ starting pitching was roughed up, apart from Jered Weaver. And the list of rough starts rounds out with Baltimore, who had as tough a 1-5 week as you can imagine. New closer Mike Gonzalez blew two saves, and also lost a game that was tied in the ninth. Manager Dave Trembley has to make a decision fast, as to whether Gonzalez can recover the form that made him a top closer prior to elbow surgery. While no one expects the Orioles to make the playoffs this year, there are expectations that they will get in the .500 neighborhood and one player holding them back can’t be allowed to go on.
Finally, our Week 1 kudos will wrap up with Detroit. Not a ferocious schedule with Kansas City and Cleveland, but they took care of business behind their own M&M boys—Maggilo and Miguel, as rightfielder Ordonez and first baseman Cabrera had big weeks.
See you tomorrow afternoon to look at the key matchups in the first part of Week 2. And spring football overviews continued yesterday at The College Football Notebook with the ACC and The Pro Football Notebook with the NFC North.